Harvard Business School Professor Is Sorry for Overreacting to a $4 Chinese-Food-Order Discrepancy (Daily Intel, earlier)
"Many people have seen my emails with Ran Duan of Sichuan Garden restaurant in Brookline. Having reflected on my interaction with Ran, including what I said and how I said it, it's clear that I was very much out of line. I aspire to act with great respect and humility in dealing with others, no matter what the situation. Clearly I failed to do so. I am sorry, and I intend to do better in the future. I have reached out to Ran and will apologize to him personally as well."
Investec apologizes after 'I can't breath' backlash (BBC)
South African bank Investec has apologized after the headline "I can't breathe" on a research note caused an uproar on social media. The bank used it in a briefing about Standard Chartered facing regulatory hurdles in the US. It echoes the last words spoken by Eric Garner, an unarmed black man killed by US police in an apparent chokehold in July. The words have become a slogan in US protests against police violence. "Investec apologizes unreservedly for the inappropriate content in this morning's research note on Standard Chartered and for any offence caused," the bank said on Wednesday. "The content in question does not represent the views of Investec." In the research note, London-based analyst Ian Gordon had originally drawn more comparisons between the Garner case and the US government's scrutiny of British bank Standard Chartered, but that was edited out by Investec's compliance team before it was published. Mr Gordon said the US government put too much control and influence on the bank's business.
Treasury Pick’s Wall Street Ties Split Democrats (WSJ)
Five years after President Barack Obama decried “fat cat bankers on Wall Street,” he is being pilloried by fellow Democrats for nominating a Wall Street banker to a senior Treasury Department post. In tapping Antonio Weiss, Lazard Ltd. ’s global head of investment banking, as Treasury’s undersecretary for domestic finance, Mr. Obama has rekindled criticism he is appointing too many regulators with Wall Street ties who are unable—or unwilling—to engage in tough oversight of the big banks at the center of the 2008 financial crisis. The brawl has become a proxy battle for a deepening rift in the Democratic Party over its ties to the financial industry. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) all have expressed opposition to Mr. Weiss, as support for the 48-year-old banker continues to buckle.
Merrill raises broker bonuses for new accounts and assets (Reuters)
Merrill Lynch told its 14,000 brokers on Wednesday they will get higher bonus payments in 2015 for attracting new clients and assets but eliminated pay for servicing clients with less than $250,000. The brokerage subsidiary of Bank of America Corp will pay brokers .10 percent of new assets clients use to buy loans, banking and trust products, or put into fee-based advisory accounts. The cash bonus - half paid at yearend and half over eight years - doubles the .05 percent paid this year for such "strategic" money. Brokers attracting over $10 million of such assets get .20 percent and .23 percent for those reaching $50 million. However, bonuses in 2015 are being halved for new money put into low-profit money-market or bank accounts.
What an Appeals Court Insider Trading Decision Does, and Doesn’t, Do (Dealbook)
In a clear slap at Mr. Bharara’s campaign against insider trading, the appeals court criticized the “doctrinal novelty” of recent prosecutions aimed at tippees who receive information third- or even fourth-hand. “We note that the government has not cited, nor have we found a single case in which tippees as remote as Newman and Chiasson have been held criminally liable for insider trading,” the appeals court said. Thus, “the circumstantial evidence in this case was simply too thin to warrant the inference that the corporate insiders received any personal benefit in exchange for their tips.” Rather than just reverse the conviction and send the case back for a retrial, the appeals court went a step further by finding that the government failed to introduce enough evidence to convict them. This is something it typically doesn’t do even when siding with a defendant. Thus, these two defendants cannot be retried for their trading in this case.
'Vulgar' undies Comfyballs denied a U.S. trademark (UPI)
he Norwegian manufacturers of Comfyballs underwear said the U.S. patent office told them the brand name is too "vulgar" to trademark. Company founder Anders Selvig said officials filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this year with an aim toward bringing the products to the North American market, but the office's reply said the name was too "vulgar" to trademark. "The mark does not create a double entendre or other idiomatic expression... When used in this way, the word 'balls' has an offensive meaning," the office said in its reply to Comfyballs...Selvig called on the patent office to review its guidelines. "The trademarks 'Nice Balls' and 'I love my balls' have recently both been approved by the USPTO," Selvig told The Telegraph. "Luckily, Europeans have a softer view on what is deemed to be vulgar and the [European Union] allowed Comfyballs to trademark without hassle earlier this year."
Bond Investors Look to Cull the Herd (WSJ)
After years of strong gains and buying record amounts of debt, corporate-bond investors are facing a new challenge: what to sell. Many fund managers expect the long bull market in bonds to weaken next year because of slowing economic growth overseas, plummeting oil prices and a potential increase in interest rates in the U.S. That is forcing investors to identify bonds that are likely to lag behind the market, a task that stands to be more complicated than in past years, when widespread gains meant investors didn’t have to make as many hard choices on what to buy and sell. Corporate debt in 2015 will be a bond picker’s market, said Jon Curran, a Boston-based portfolio manager and analyst at U.K.-based Standard Life Investments , which oversees $422 billion in assets.
HSBC Dismisses London Head Of FX Trading (WSJ)
HSBC Holdings PLC has dismissed Stuart Scott, its London-based head of currencies trading, in connection with the global investigations that have led to the bank paying $620 million in fines on both sides of the Atlantic, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Scott was fired on Dec. 9 from a role that involved supervising the bank’s foreign-exchange trading operations. He joined the bank in 2007, according to the U.K. financial regulator’s register. Reached by phone, he declined to comment.
Netflix CEO: Broadcast TV will only last another 16 years (NYP)
“It’s kind of like the horse, you know. The horse was good until we had the car,” Hastings told the Hollywood Reporter last month. “The age of broadcast TV will probably last until 2030.”
Putin’s Friends Reap Billions in Deals as Economy Teeters (Bloomberg)
Having grown rich on government contracts during the boom in Putin’s Russia, friends of the president are benefiting anew as times grow tough. Lucrative orders keep rolling in for the favored few even as western sanctions and a collapse in oil prices push the economy to the brink. The development has polarized Russia’s oligarchy and pitted Putin’s small circle against less well-connected rivals in a battle for money and privilege.
Postal worker admits to stealing mail out of boredom (DFP)
Detroit-area postal employee is accused of stealing as many as 2,000 pieces of mail, pocketing any cash and dumping the leftovers along Interstate 94. Federal authorities say that Sharon Berrien told them she stole the mail out of boredom. It was mostly greeting cards. Berrien was charged Monday with stealing mail while working at a Detroit mail processing center. Investigators say she told them that the thefts began last spring. The probe started in October when mail was found along Pelham Road and I-94 and given to the Taylor postmaster. On Nov. 21, 800 pieces were found in Berrien's trash. Three bags were inside in a closet. Berrien says she kept $1,000 to $1,500. She didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the criminal case Monday. "I was bored," she told investigators when they asked for the reason she stole the mail. She said she didn't have any financial problems.